13Overloaded’s Simonne Michelle-Wells has just emerged from a night at La Mama Poetica. Barry Dickins has taken off with her heart and she’s been left with Pobjie aftershock and seriously wanting of a hat:

Ever noticed the prevalence of hats at poetry gigs? I counted 10 at What I’m Talking About at Poetica La Mama on Monday night. Seriously, I’m wearing one next time. I need to imbibe that poetic vibe, man.

Wordsmiths riffing to photographers’ work is a seriously smokin’ idea. Monday nights’ poets responded to 17 beautiful photos by Andrew Watson, David Harradine and Jessica Rizzi.

Melbourne’s busiest literature buff, Angela Meyer kicked things off and not in a zillion years would you imagine that this was the girl’s first go at a live reading of her own stuff. She spoke with a purposeful clarity and surety that lent much to her work. Her second poem, ‘Longing and the Aftermath of Something’ was my favourite. Written in response to a beautiful photo of a young girl, it oozed hunger and passion while managing its own kind of aural zing with its short, sharp sounds and lines like I make pancakes // I take to his remnants with a straw.

Briohny Doyle responded to her visual stimuli with a subtle theme of loss: feeling loss, lost within your own neighbourhood, and blindness to a lover’s true, maybe murderous intentions. Doyle’s writing is powerful and sharp, but unfortunately some of it was lost to her overly quick delivery.

Ben Pobjie had the rowdy, hat-loving crowd revved up. He let the photographic images spark an idea and then off he ran into his own irreverent, crazy world of incestuous Grandfathers and facetious poets: Are you like my Grandfather… who spooned me?; I didn’t choose poetry, poetry chose me. It’s more than a get rich scheme, it’s a way of life… like quadriplegia.

I could see the skill in Pobjie’s work, which sounded like flash fiction when read aloud, but somehow it wasn’t for me. It seemed too much like shock for shock’s sake, and ultimately left me bereft of any lasting images.

Sean M. Whelan delivered three diverse readings in his effortless style. ‘This is a Ghost Story’ was a cracker of a poem created in response to a beautiful photo by David Harradine of an Asian streetscape. Any poem that starts with There’s a ghost in the Golden Sheep massage parlour just has to be good, right? It was an evocative word-shower of imagination and surprise. It was more than the sum of its parts and left you with a story that lingered long after he finished speaking.

Sean’s last poem was decidedly reminiscent of a Tim Winton story called ‘Abbreviation’. Despite the fact that for some reason I found this a little off-putting, it was fascinating to look at the photo and see where Sean’s brain took him in crafting a poem from it.

The illustrious Barry Dickins rounded off the evening and was certainly the crowd favourite. It seemed odd to me that Barry responded to five different photographs while all the other poets responded to three, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re famous…

Barry did steal my heart, I must admit. He didn’t read or perform his poetry; he breathed it out across the room. There was a definite rhythm to his work which was beautifully matched by his seductive voice. His third poem was written in response to a photo of an alley: I love you keenly, alley. Like death in a good mood… Your father, my father, our father, who art in alley.

If I’d been wearing a hat I would have taken it off. Next time.

Overland Overloaded

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  1. Preston will never be the same. Nor should it be! O unassuming gentle wise Barry Dickens poet of the not-so-dark alleys. Viva!

  2. Do a review of the Overland hats! Hat review! Hat review!

    Taking hats off is a very good suggestion. Does the sun follow you inside? No. Then take the hat off. We want to see your beautiful eyes.

    I love my fedora, but when I go inside I take it off.

    Yes, I will keep going on and on about this for as long as it takes… why thank you, yes, I am seeing myself out…

  3. Wishing to be there,
    the reader enters the room;
    conjures an image.
    Longing for Meyer –
    panic aches and pikelets; please
    pass me the syrup.
    Briohny’s doily
    intricately woven; lost
    under steeping tea.
    Pobjie takes the stage;
    hats assume the position.
    Ben! Grandfather cock.
    Baaaa! Oh yeah, just there.
    That a ghost in your pocket?
    Sean sheep make better …
    Back door Baz! High five!
    Darling, let me introduce …
    Dickins! What the filch.

  4. i couldn’t have been more impressed by this show! the photographs were intense and beautiful and the poems, the poetry, the POETIC LOVE!

    i saw barry yesterday and we wondered if poetry wasn’t the new rock ‘n’ roll. we can only hope to see a mosh pit at a slam soon…

  5. Why don’t the old ladies who tell me they love me ever write blog posts about me? Every time a blogger writes about me it’s all “shock for shock’s sake” this and “I want to send a female boxer round to punch him” that.

    Geez. I mean, it’s all right for Barry Dickins, he’s had life experiences and hardship and a beard and things. Writing poetry based on a sheltered suburban life of middle-class privilege and entitlement, THAT’s the challenge.

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